TL;DR (4-minute read)
- The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, and during that time, they forcefully enforced their twisted version of Muslim sharia law, one that stripped Muslim women of any rights and freedom and give severe punishments for petty crimes.
- After President Biden ordered US troops to evacuate Afghanistan, the Taliban were able to defeat Afghan forces and capture Kabul, and most of the country, giving them a platform to enforce their strict rules.
- Both Republicans and Democrats have been blaming each other about the war since its start almost 20 years ago. Even now, not much has changed. Most Republican and some Democrat lawmakers believe that Biden rushed the evacuation process, which helped the Taliban sweep the country in the past few weeks. Some Republican lawmakers have even called on President Biden to step down from his post for his mishandling of the situation.
Key Questions to Consider:
- How does the history of Afghanistan relate to the current crisis going on now?
- What is happening right now?
- Who do the Democratic and Republican Parties blame for the crisis?
How does the History of Afghanistan Relate to the Current Crisis?
Before approaching the current situation, it is crucial to acknowledge the history of Afghanistan and the events that led to this current crisis. Afghanistan, a Muslim-dominated country, was formally recognized as a nation in the 1930’s after centuries of foreign domination. Starting from the 1950’s, there was a growing communist force in Afghanistan that was supported by the Soviet Union, and they eventually overthrew the monarchy at that time. With the Cold War happening during this era, the United States became fearful of communism spreading from Afghanistan to other parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa. With this in mind, the United States, along with a few other countries, decided to fund and supply arms to a guerilla movement called the Mujahideen that resisted the Soviet-backed government at the time. The Soviet Union finally withdrew their troops in 1989, one of the components of the peace accords in Geneva. Even though fighting still continued for a few years, the Mujahideen were able to defeat the Afghan government in 1992. In 1995, a group known as the Taliban sprouted out of the Mujahideen and easily rose into power.
Although at first, the Afghan people supported the Taliban because of the lack of stability for years, they quickly disapproved of the Taliban after they brought about public executions and restrictive laws. The extent of this can be seen in womens’ rights before and after the start of the Taliban’s regime. Just years before, in the early 1990s, women were nearly equal to men and had a large footprint on their nation’s economy and development – 70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers and university students, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women. After the Taliban came into power, women were denied an education, confined to their homes, and even girls as young as 8 or 9 are forced to wear Muslim burqas (a loose, black garment Muslim women wear from head to toe in public) whenever they leave their homes.
The United States, as well as NATO, were infuriated with the Taliban because Osama Bin-Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 Attacks, was reportedly hiding in Afghanistan and the Taliban refused to turn him over. This led to conflicts between the two nations and the Taliban eventually lost control of Afghanistan in late 2001.
What is happening right now?
Although the Taliban no longer controlled Afghanistan, they still posed a threat to Afghan forces and fighting still continued. To support Afghan forces, President Obama sent more troops to overwhelm the Taliban in 2009. NATO finally ended its combat mission in 2014, but the US troops stayed to help advise and train the Afghan forces until 2016, although the plan to withdraw was delayed by President Obama. President Trump established peace talks with the Taliban and the US was expected to withdraw but he called it off after a US soldier was killed in an attack. Once President Biden came into power he started to quickly withdraw troops which led to the Taliban overpowering Afghan forces. With Afghan civilians already experiencing the strict laws and enforcements from before, they are fearful for their future under Taliban rule. With this future becoming more of reality, Afghan civilians have taken desperate measures to get out, including climbing on planes as they take off and forcing their children forward in crowds so they can get evacuated faster. Even President Ashraf Ghani has left Afghanistan and is now residing in the UAE. There have been countless attacks by other terrorist groups as well, such as the attack by ISIS-K, a rival group against the Taliban, on a Kabul airport that killed 13 US service members and almost 100 Afghan civilians.
Who do the Democratic and Republican Parties Blame for the Current Situation in Afghanistan?
Going back to the emergence of the Taliban, both Democrats and Republicans have blamed each other. Republicans blame the Democratic party for initiating the funding of the mujahedeen, but the Democratic party blames the GOP for maintaining and increasing the funding in later years. Over the 20 years of US involvement in the country, shots have been fired from both sides and continued through the Trump and Obama administrations. Both of these administrations have failed to keep their promise to remove US troops from Afghanistan and ironically, they were slandered by their opposing parties.
Today, Republicans believe that Biden’s withdrawal of US troops was too sudden and that they should’ve made sure that the Afghan military would be able to defend against the Taliban. Some Democrats agree with them. Other lawmakers even went as far as calling for his impeachment and/or resignation. Although both parties do not see completely eye to eye on the recent events, they both seem to agree that this was Biden’s worst mistake so far in his presidency.